Historic City News has learned that Republican Senator Steve Wise of Jacksonville, who is leaving the chamber because of term limits, was added to a Florida Senate Redistricting Panel yesterday when the legislature started a two-week “extraordinary session”.
Wise, and Senator Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, join a panel trying to address last week’s Florida Supreme Court decision invalidating the original redistricting maps proposed by the Senate.
Both Wise and Smith represent areas of the state likely to be in the thick of revisions.
The Duval County district that Wise represents, abuts two Northeast Florida districts that the court declared invalid, saying they should have been more compact.
The court also held that Smith’s proposed district could have been more compact while still allowing minorities in the area to elect a candidate of their choice.
Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Melbourne, said the additions were intended to give Smith, the incoming Democratic leader, a seat on the committee while adding Wise as a Republican counterweight.
Senate Reapportionment Chairman Don Gaetz, R-Destin, the senator leading the redistricting process, said that the rewrite could pit incumbents against each other, particularly around the eight districts the court specifically declared invalid.
Gaetz told reporters that he intends to release a revised redistricting plan on Saturday, and that the new map could threaten sitting senators — including himself.
“We’re not going to quibble with the Supreme Court. We’re going to comply with the Supreme Court, and it may turn out that Senator Evers and I are both in the same district,” Gaetz said. “We won’t be the only senators who will be in the same district, I suspect.”